As a freelancer, you need a value proposition. You really do. But far too many freelancers out there are still struggling with getting their core offerings nailed down in this regard.
Some people, sadly, are still not even fully on board with what a value proposition is in the first place, let alone how much difference it can make to selling their services.
In this article, we’ll cover both the essentials of what a value proposition is and, more importantly, step through four great tips for putting together a killer version of your own.
By the time we’re finished, you’ll have a clear plan of action for making sure you’re putting the best possible foot forward in your business.
Before we get on to concrete steps, let’s start with a quick review of the basics.
What Is a Value Proposition?
Put simply, your value proposition is what makes people buy from you. It tells them, in no uncertain terms, the exact value you will be delivering to them as a customer by doing three key things:
- It tells your clients how you can solve their problems or improve their lot.
- It explains the unique benefits you bring to the party as a solutions provider.
- It makes clear why clients should go with you rather than your competition.
Your value proposition should be the first thing visitors see on your site and be repeatedly stressed in any sales and marketing literature or face-to-face meetings.
We’re not talking about a catchy slogan like “Maybe it’s Maybelline” here. Your value proposition should be a chunk of text including some or all of the following:
- A headline featuring your key benefit.
- A paragraph of two or three sentences going into your offering in more detail.
- Two or three bullet points explaining the benefits you provide.
- If possible, an attention-getting graphic.
Why is a Value Proposition Important to Me?
When you’re searching for work, it’s absolutely critical that you explain to potential clients exactly why they should choose you. The vast majority of freelance markets today are incredibly competitive – and only getting more so.
Standing out from the crowd is critical, and a solid value proposition goes a long way to helping you do that. A cleverly crafted value proposition can make the difference between success and failure. It’s that simple.
Identifying the value proposition is the tough part. Let’s move on to the steps to do so.
1. Keep It Simple
Whatever you plan to write, remember that techno-jargon and flowery phrases won’t cut it. You need people to understand what you offer.
It’s very easy to assume that blinding people with science or big marketing phrases will somehow shock and awe them into buying from you. Wrong. Your value proposition needs to be accessible. Steer away from rash hyperbole like “the best in the world” – it just looks fake.
If you really want to know whether your value proposition is clear and simple enough, try it out on a partner or friend. Ask them to explain what they think it’s saying – and if they come back with something that describes your work reasonably accurately, you’re on the right track.
2. Ask the Right Questions
When you set about writing your value proposition, you have to ask yourself some key questions:
- Does my business solve a critical need?
- Does that need absolutely have to be addressed?
- Is the need a top priority for my potential clients?
- Is there a shortage of people available to meet that need?
If you can answer “yes” to some or all of the above, you’re in great shape for the future: demand is there, your services are essential for clients, the need is immediate and reliable solutions are thin on the ground.
Most of us have to dig a little deeper, of course. If you’re in a competitive field, you not only have to be able to meet a need, you’ll have to go further and offer some added value that sets you apart from your competitors.
That’s where you turn to a second set of questions:
- What, if anything, about my service, is unique?
- What benefits, above and beyond my basic work, do I offer?
- How easy is it for customers to use and access my product or work?
These are all really important issues that affect your chances of success, and of being able to create a really compelling value proposition. If you are finding it hard to work out what these unique points and benefits may be, have a look at some competitor websites.
It’s not that you want to copy them – far from it. But seeing what they do (or don’t) say about themselves will give you clues as to value gaps which can be exploited.
3. Keep Talking
Talking to your clients and customers – and really listening – is one of the most valuable things you can ever do for your business. Your value proposition needs to be in language clients understand and the best way of working out of how that actually sounds is to talk to some real live people.
Finding out what your customers really want might mean hitting the phones, reaching out on social media or talking face-to-face. Whatever it involves, bite the bullet and just do it. You’re looking for feedback about what it is that your existing clients appreciate in your work, and what they’re after more generally.
You’ll quickly find common keywords, phrases and ideas cropping up; aspects of the overall package that mean the most to your clients. These are the rocks you build your value proposition upon.
Get a general list and then ruthlessly prune down to the essentials. Your value proposition should be short and punchy so you’re looking to get core concepts across quickly.
4. Rinse and Repeat
Does what you’ve put together tick all the boxes we’ve suggested? Do you know who your target market is? Do you fully understand their need for your services? Have you a short, compelling description of what it is you provide? Do you know what it is that makes you different from, and better than, the rest?
Fantastic! The initial hard work is done, but markets and clients change every day. Your own set of skills will also constantly evolve so this is an area you should be constantly testing in the field and reviewing.
Once you’ve got your core value proposition dialled in, commit to regularly revisiting it and stepping through the same sequence we’ve identified above to keep things fresh as you and your client or customer base grow.
Getting your value proposition right is the key to building sustainable, long-term income as a freelancer and standing out from the crowd: Let’s recap the four steps you should take to get it right:
- Keep it simple: Your value proposition needs to be short and to the point.
- Ask the right questions: Hone in on the essentials by focusing on the right questions from a customer point of view.
- Keep talking: Nothing beats real, live feedback from the people you’re trying to reach.
- Rinse and repeat: Never stop learning and improving your pitch.
We’d love to hear how you tackle this crucial element of making things work as a freelancer? Are there tips we’ve missed? Get in touch via the comments!
Image Credit: Steven Depolo